The email from Jeff Goins today is to do some free writing. Now, this is a concept I’m quite familiar with because it’s something I do regularly as part of my creative writing course. Basically, you just keep writing for a set period of time, usually on a suggested prompt. You are supposed to keep going no matter what. No self-editing or revisions, the grammar police are banned. The aim is to encourage creativity. This is how Jeff describes it:
“Master the art of silencing the inner critic, letting go of perfectionism, and embracing your art.” Jeff Goins
So, if you can’t think of anything, you just write ” Can’t think of anything.” and keep on writing. Even if it’s rubbish. Like how inadequate you feel not being able to produce Shakespearean sonnets in ten minutes. Or even a cartoon of same. I know, because it has happened to me on several occasions.
At my last creative writing course, the free writing theme was to ” Describe an object at home that you dislike.” Panic stations alert.
First of all, I’ve only recently moved here. I chose the location, the house and everything in it on my own. Spent endless hours trawling the hardware stores to find the perfect sofa, island unit, hall table. Kept only well-loved items from my last home, such as the French style cabinet in my downstairs bathroom. I’d even painted that myself, using ivory chalk paint to add to the distressed look. So how could I dislike any of it?
Cutlery sets and Attics
I’m sure if I tried hard enough, I could have found something. Maybe the silver cutlery set, which has certainly seen better days. In its’ pristine state, you could see your reflection in the handles. Somehow or other, it ended up in a dishwasher and emerged stripped of all its’ former glory. Oh, the irony that I can write about it now, not when I was supposed to be doing it.
Anyway, I ended up writing about the attic, about the boxed memories that lie there, about how much I miss my children. And so on.
When the ten minutes were up, we each had to read our pieces of free writing. I was fascinated by the great descriptive writing of the other participants. How on earth can they do that in such a short space of time? That type of descriptive writing usually happens for me after I’ve finished the first draft, not during it. It’s like I do the narrative/ reflective bit first and it’s not till later that most of the description happens. I have no idea if anyone else experiences this, I’d genuinely love to know.
As I mentioned in my Day 3 post, Jeff suggested to get up earlier than usual and start writing straight away. Well, I did it, set myself a target of one hour.. Even stood outside in the garden, notebook and pen in hand. Described the flocks of clouds, the fishbone twigs, the triplet catkins. My senses were definitely more fine-tuned than usual, I even noticed the woody smell of the catkins.
But it wasn’t until I got inside, with five minutes to go, that the real writing started. It was triggered by the clock ticking down the seconds over the patio doors. Bonjour Paris! printed on its’ face, just under the pink Parisien bicycle. I wrote more in those five minutes than the previous fifty-five.
So yes, Jeff, you were right. The early start awakened my senses, though it took a while for everything to get in synch. And the good news is, it still worked with coffee!
The photograph is my own, taken today to illustrate this post on Free Writing.